County Manager/Chief Executive, Westmeath County Council
Higher Diploma in Community Work, 1985, Maynooth University
My community work education in Maynooth helped me build on previous voluntary involvement in community and youth work, challenging me to develop the knowledge, skills, values and experience necessary to work professionally in such roles.
Connecting my work in the community with the need to address wider social and policy issues led me into elected politics at local and national level at a time of great social change.
My first job after graduation from 1985 – 1992 was manager of the Tullamore Community Training Workshop. I successfully stood for election to the County Council and UDC during the 1990s. I served as an elected member of Dáil Éireann from 1992 – 1997 and Seanad Éireann 1997 – 1999. A reform of local government in the late 1990s placed community and enterprise development and social inclusion firmly within its remit. I was recruited to lead such work in Westmeath, including developing public participation in local governance. I then got opportunities to widen and develop my career in local government as County Manager in 3 counties. My constant mantra to staff is that we have the responsibility and opportunity to make a positive difference to the everyday lives of the people and communities we serve through our work.
A professional community work education will challenge and help you develop the knowledge, skills, values and experience necessary for working in community work and community development and give you a recognised accredited professional qualification of relevance in a number of areas. It has stood me in good stead in a variety of roles including the local and national political ones mentioned above. It can also give you an interest in further education which I undertook including through a Doctorate in Governance in Queens University, Belfast.